December 29 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!” ~Zechariah 11:17

OLD TESTAMENT

God is angry with the prophet, the priest, and the king for their failure to properly shepherd the people of God. They do their work for sordid gain and care only for themselves, which explains why they never tell the people anything they don’t want to hear. They view their position as a means to an end rather than as a means to bless the people of God! God will judge them, and He will replace them.

Ironically, when God replaces the false shepherds with true ones, the people snub them. Zechariah shepherds the people with integrity, he cares for them, and he shows them favor while working to bring unity. In this way, Zechariah is a forerunner of the Christ who will come. However, while the people willingly lined the pockets of false prophets, they reject both Zechariah and Christ. They even refuse to pay them for their work. Here’s some pocket change Zechariah; thanks for the sermon.(See Zechariah 11:12. Thirty pieces of silver was the price for an injured slave!) Later, Judas will show how much he values Jesus by betraying Him for chump change.

This is a lesson in following the right people. The recently returned exiles refused to listen to Zechariah, the wise shepherd provided for them, and their children will crucify the true Shepherd (Zech. 12:10). Meanwhile, both the false shepherds and the sheep that prop them up will be judged. Who are you following? Do you realize there are true and false shepherds? Do you know how to tell the difference? True shepherds love their flocks, they constantly point people to the true Shepherd, and they proclaim the whole counsel of God, even when it is difficult to do so. Don’t despise them or treat them with contempt for their work. We all follow someone. Follow the shepherds who lovingly teach you how to follow the true Shepherd.

NEW TESTAMENT

Revelation 20 introduces a new idea to biblical prophecy—a millennial kingdom. A few scattered Old Testament prophets may allude to a millennial kingdom, but no other passage in Scripture teaches it so clearly. With just these verses to go on, interpreters have sorted themselves into three main camps: postmillennials, premillennials, and amillenials.

Postmillennial interpreters hold that Jesus will return after (post) the thousand years recounted in Revelation 20 is over. That’s when the new heavens and the new earth finally make their grand entrance (Rev. 21). Postmillennials believe that the coming of Christ in Revelation 19 is figurative; He ushers in His reign of peace through the church. They do not believe the church accomplishes peace on her own, but rather through the strength and power of Christ. The postmillennial view fell out of fashion after two world wars in the twentieth century, when hopes for a triumphant church were dashed. It remains the weakest of the three interpretations.

Premillennial interpreters believe Jesus will return prior to the tribulation period and reign on the earth for a literal thousand years. After that, Satan and his minions will be released for one last attempt to take down the King of Kings. There are variations within the interpretation as theologians account for the unusual details John relates. This view is very popular among many North American evangelicals today.

Amillennial interpreters have been around since at least Augustine (d. 430 AD), and they reigned supreme in the church until the nineteenth century. The prefix “a” means not or without, so in short, this is the view that the thousand years described in Revelation 21 is to be understood figuratively. Christ will reign, but the term thousand years is not a literal time frame. Those who hold to this position believe that Christ will solidify His kingdom over a period of time. They hold that He may give Satan “a second chance,” perhaps only to show how evil he really is, after which He will judge all those who have died. (There are variations within this viewpoint as well.)

In all actuality, there is little difference in the final outcome between the second and third views. I find both to be fairly acceptable interpretations of the text. The main point is of course that Christ is coming to reign over the earth. When He does, Satan will be defeated, the saints will reign with their Lord, and all living creatures will be judged. Whether Jesus takes His sweet time to bring all this about or accomplishes it swiftly, all that matters is that He reigns in the end.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.